I am purposely being clear about the content in this post because well, it’s January now. I recognize that Christmas was #solastyear. And I also recognize that I just teased the village of Martin yesterday for the Christmas remnants that still flank the main street (but only in my Instagram story so it’s like it never happened).
I’m not gonna lie. I struggle with the holidays. It’s basically a month-long reminder of how life is different for us. There is grief and loneliness and a desire for solitude that doesn’t make sense in a time that should be joyful and filled to the brim with family and apparently, reindeer corn.
This year felt similar except that grief was exacerbated by the tragic loss of a young man in our community; a man I’d watched grow into a simply amazing husband and father. There was a celebration service held for him on a cold Friday night. His mom, dad, brother and sister spoke and I don’t think they realized how much they ministered to the many hurting hearts there. And our grief is a fraction of theirs. But my grieving heart felt held and reminded of the beauty in the brokenness. It might not feel like it’s supposed to be this way, but there is pure grace. And it’s all I need. (Scroll down to see how you can support the Pavlak family)
After that Friday night, I felt a shift in thinking about the remainder of the holiday season. Connor and I did our one of two shopping trips that weekend and we went to one of our favorite shops and wandered Eastown and it was perfect. Perfect because we weren’t at the mall (praise!) and because we were together shopping intentionally for those we love the most. Imperfect only because there is one store I heart big time and I swear every item with language on it in the store is inappropriate. And well, CJ is at an age where he starts laughing and I feel immediately shamed for bringing my child into such an establishment; however, they have amazing completely appropriate gifts! Such a battle.
The other big change this year was that our Christmas was on Christmas Eve. With schedule shifts in recent years, this was the first Christmas Day I wouldn’t see Connor and I was kind of a wreck about it. But, with the change in thinking, I decided that Christmas Eve was Christmas and that was that and we were going to enjoy the crap out of it. And you know what? We totally did.
I’ll also give a major shout-out to my family for being so flexible and willing to host Christmas on the Eve. And for the agreement we all had to avoid going insane with gifts this year. My parents asked that I donate to the Pavlak family’s education fund and that was the best type of gift to give. Otherwise, we all set limits and for the most part, stuck to them. I was so proud of us!
As usual, we read the story of Christ’s birth and ransacked the living room with wrapping paper. The one gift that was not.cool. was the stuffed dog my parents gave him. My mom and dad both acted like something big was going to happen so I got all excited and grabbed my camera and then we got a dog! A fake one. Lame.
We ate an amazing meal and got to do some church before CJ had to go for the night. As hard as Christmas Day (the real one) could have been, I just enjoyed it for what it was … an extra day off and more freaking food. #sweatpants
It all really just comes down to this choice we make and I’ve allowed myself to see the world from this place of pain for too many holiday seasons about where I should be and how far away I am from everyone else my age and … etc.; when, all the while, I do have so much to be joyful about. And again, I choose joy.
*As I’d mentioned, you can be a part of supporting the Pavlak family. Know that they are humble, sweet people who would only ever ask for your prayers, but if you are so inclined a fund has been set up to ease the burden on Kaitlyn and her two small children as they navigate life without Mitchel. https://www.gofundme.com/the-mitchel-pavlak-memorial-fund